BY LAUREN WESTBERG
Purdue research being presented to Congress on Thursday could increase the survival rate of brain aneurysms, including those from bomb blasts, from a 50/50 shot to 80 to 85 percent.
Professor Jean Paul Allain and his co-principal, Lisa Reece, have been funded for his three-year project by a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The goal of the project is to create a safer, less invasive and more successful process for healing brain aneurysms for soldiers who experienced abnormal or fatal swelling within their blood vessels from bomb blasts.
"The morbidity and mortality is from the highly invasive procedure," Reece said. "We'd like to be able to do it where you don't have to open up the patient."
Current procedures for treating aneurysms are either by opening the skull and clipping the sac of swollen blood, or by inserting a catheter through a brain artery and placing a metallic coil into the sac. There is a 50 percent chance of the patient dying, and those who do not die risk major health complications. Both procedures hold a high potential for massive bleeding or fatal blood clot formation.
Purdue's research should change these procedures however.
"We'll probably use some guidance like with an MRI or using some ultra sound and use a catheter and guide it to our aneurysm," Reece said, "just to place it there and withdraw the catheter and leave the stent in place."
As graduate student Ravindra Kempaiah described it, "it's like a Band–Aid for a very complicated blood vessel in the vein."
Reece said Allain's lab is working with metallic material while another lab on campus is working on using bacterial cellulose. Both labs are hoping to use their material around a stent to attract stem cells to the site of the swelling to act as a catalyst for the healing process.
A stent is an artificial tube placed in the body – in this case, within a blood vessel.
Kempaiah said although this procedure will be effective in preventing the bursting of brain aneurysms, it cannot help a patient if the blood sac has already been broken.
"Once that ruptures, people die," Kempaiah said. "As soon as the aneurysm is noticed, we have to do the surgery."
Although this research was originally meant for injured soldiers in the field, Reece says it will be open to public use after it has been thoroughly tested.
"We are just about to enter phase one to generate the first prototype," she said. "We're going to try to get (phase one) done by the end of the summer and start the animal studies trials."
Kempaiah said she hopes to present this research to the public by May 2014, if it is approved by the Federal Drug Administration.
If this is approved and begins to be in use, Reece said such research could open many different avenues for future ventures.
"Depending on the materials we find and are able to use, we could start on different types of maybe cartilage or bone replacement," Reece said, "(or a) type of regenerative medicine as well."